Step 3 - Baptism

Before you are baptised, you need to have truly repented. If you have not done this or are not sure, then see Step 2: Repentance by clicking here.

What is baptism?

There are 2 kinds of baptism we read about in the word and both are essential. One is baptism in water. The other is a baptism of fire, or more commonly known as being baptised in the Holy Spirit. A water baptism is carried out by anyone who is a disciple of Jesus. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is done by none other than the son of the almighty God: Jesus Christ! John the Baptist testifies to this amazing truth in the gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 3:11
I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

The word “baptism” has Greek roots and basically means immersion (usually into water).

Do I really need to be baptised?

Jesus commanded us to be baptised. By not being baptised, we are not obeying our Lord’s command. Obedience to the Lord is a sign of our faith.

How can we say that we live by faith if we do not do the very things that Jesus commands us to do? See the post “What is faith” on why faith is more than just belief.

Water Baptism

When people were baptised in the bible they were:

  • Fully immersed in water (not sprinkled with "holy water")
  • Only after both believing in Jesus Christ and repenting (never as a baby and never without understanding why they needed to be baptised)

When we are baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, we are being baptised for the forgiveness of our sins. We are burying our old self. Our old self dies - it is buried with Christ.

There is some controversy surrounding a passage in Matthew 28:19 where the command by Jesus was to baptise people “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” and this is typically what most people do when baptising people. Yet, when we look at what the disciples did, they did not do this! They baptised people in the name of Jesus Christ only. Why?

There is evidence that the verse in Matthew 28:19 originally said that Jesus commanded His disciples to baptise people “in my name” and that this was changed. Whether that is the case or not, we can be sure of the correct interpretation by not building a whole doctrine out of a single verse. By using the whole Bible we can come up with an informed answer and when we do this, scripture is clear: we baptise in the name of Jesus Christ only.

We can clearly see that the disciples never baptised anyone under any other name or combination of names.

Acts 2:38
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 3:27
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Acts 10:48
So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

We are not baptised in the name of the person who lead us to Christ, but in Christ Himself. In 1 Corinthians, Paul is explaining that it doesn’t matter who discipled a believer.

1 Corinthians 1:13
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?

The equivication is clear. Paul is using sarcasm as he replaces the name of Jesus with his own name. He is saying:

1 Corinthians 1:13 (intention)
Christ is not divided. Jesus was crucified for you. You are baptized in the name of Jesus?

Still, there are many more examples where it is clear that we are baptised in the name of Jesus Christ

  • Acts 8:12
  • Acts 8:16
  • Acts 19:5
  • Acts 22:16

Even if we discount all of the above, the most clearest verse has not yet been mentioned. This is in Romans, where Paul does not only confirm the name under which we are baptised, but also why we are baptised:

Romans 6:3-5
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

This makes it clear that we are baptised in the name of Jesus Christ; and actually into His death. Being baptised in His death, we can rise again as He rose again.

Only Jesus Christ died for us and He was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father. Did God, the Father die? No, ofcourse not! He is both eternal and everlasting, so we can’t be baptised in to God the Father’s death. Did the Holy Spirit die? Again, no! So we can’t be baptised into the death of the Holy Spirit either.

It was only Jesus who died for us, and we are baptised into His death.

If you are reading this and you have been baptised in the name of “the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and you are now worried that you are not really baptised then I would say you do not need to worry. The words spoken at baptisms vary and they are not a magic spell that we need to get exactly right.

God is great and His love is such that He doesn’t look upon us waiting for us to make a mistake and then dismissing our efforts. It is all about the heart, and if your heart was right when you were baptised then you do not need to be re-baptised in the name of Jesus Christ only.

However, if there is a very strong urge within you to be re-baptised, then perhaps you are being led by the spirit. It could be that something wasn’t right with your first “baptism” (such as not really being repentant or truly understanding why you were being baptised in the first place).

If you feel really strongly about it, then it may be that you do need to be baptised (again). Really you aren’t being baptised again (or re-baptised) since your first baptism wasn’t really a baptism at all. Only you can make this decision, but the good news is that if you are wrong and the first baptism was valid, being baptised again won’t invalidate your first baptism, but it may put your mind at rest and give you comfort in knowing that you have been really baptised.

What baptism comes first - water or fire?

The answer is… either can come first! In scripture, the common theme is that people receive the Holy Spirit immediately after they are baptised in water. It is more unusual for it to happen the other way around, but just because it is more unusual doesn’t mean that it does not happen. This was my experience. When I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I had not been water baptised. When I read scripture I started to wonder about what I had experienced as everyone else seemed to get the baptism of fire after water baptism. I started to worry about it until I read chapter 10 of Acts.

In this chapter, a Roman centurion named Cornelius and his whole household received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but they had not yet been baptised in water. When Peter saw that they received the Holy Spirit, he had them immediately baptised in water:

Acts 10:47
Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.

Some people may have the Holy Spirit and think that they do not need to be baptised in water. I would strongly disagree with this based on the above. When Peter saw they received the Holy Spirit, he immediately sought to baptise them in water. If there is no need, then why would he have done this?

Yet more than this, Jesus commanded that we must have both baptisms. For He said:

John 3:5
Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

This verse tells us why we must be baptised in both water and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is clearly and plainly telling us that if we don’t, we will not enter the kingdom of God.

If anyone says that we do not need to be baptised in water or the Holy Spirit then they need to look again at what Jesus said. Did Jesus lie? Ofcourse not! Then why insist on being able to enter the kingdom while not being baptised in both fire and water? Is contradicting the son of God not making Him out to be a liar? Think about it! These are harsh words, but this is a fundamental piece of the gospel and Jesus leaves no room for ambiguity:

No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit!”

When people repented, the disciples baptised them immediately. There was no waiting about. There was no fancy ceremony or special service. There was no waiting for mum and dad or making arrangement for relatives to be able to come over and be a part of it. It was being dunked in water as soon as possible. Often in that instant. This is because they understood the importance of being baptised with water.

Some people make a point that the thief who was being crucified with Jesus was not baptised. Jesus said he would be with Him in paradise. This is a futile argument and doesn’t make any sense. Think about it! The thief at the cross spoke to Jesus before He died and rose again. There was no baptism into Jesus’ death as Jesus had not yet died, and He had not yet risen.

Baptism of Fire and the Holy Spirit

If you have fully repented and have been baptised in water, but have still not received the Holy Spirit, then you may wonder how you can be baptised in the Holy Spirit. Once again, scripture tells us exactly what we should do as this very thing happened in Acts 8 and 19.

In Acts 8, Peter and John met some disciples who had been baptised but had not received the Holy Spirit.

Acts 8:14-17
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 19, the apostle Paul ran in to some disciples who were baptised but did not receive the Holy Spirit. These disciples were indeed baptised, but what is often not mentioned is that they were not baptised in the name of Jesus.

This is an important point. They received the baptism of John the Baptist. This was a baptism of repentance. He didn’t baptise people in the name of Jesus Christ as Jesus at that time had not died and risen (so he could not perform this baptism just as the thief on the cross could not be baptised in this way even if he was able to get down from the cross). So these disciples were not baptised in the name of Jesus. But Paul did a second baptism where they were baptised in the name of Jesus.

Acts 19:1-5
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the interior and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?"

"No," they answered, "we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."

"Into what, then, were you baptized?" Paul asked.

"The baptism of John" they replied.

Paul explained: "John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the One coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

So these disciples were now baptised correctly. Yet, for some reason, they still did not receive the baptism of fire. It was only after Paul laid hands on them, that they received the promised Holy Spirit:

Acts 19:6-7
And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

If you have repented and have been baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, but you have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then you can:

  • Find someone who has the Holy Spirit and ask them to lay their hands on you and pray Jesus Christ to baptise you in His Holy Spirit.
  • Pray to the Lord and ask for it. Do this earnestly and repetitively. Be like the woman in the parable of the unjust judge and keep knocking the door and asking the Lord.

If you are going to ask someone to lay their hands on you, be sure that they do indeed carry the Holy Spirit and not a different spirit. Test them. The Holy Spirit can be evidenced in them through the manifestation of the gifts of the spirit. This includes speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing. Scripture says you will know them by their fruits. What fruit are they bearing? They should exalt and praise and magnify the name of the Lord and not themselves.

Once you have received both baptisms, it is time to be led by the spirit and walk a new life with the Lord your God.

If you are having trouble finding someone to help you with either water baptism or being baptised in the Holy Spirit; then feel free to contact me by clicking here.